Litercurious Book Review
|Author||Geographer’s A-Z Map Co.|
|Publisher||Hunter Publishing: Geographers A-Z Map Co. Ltd. (6th Ed., October 30, 2006|
|ISBN #||1843483289 ISBN-13 (978-1843483281)|
The Geographer’s A-Z Map is the registered author of this 6th Edition publication; a paperback, dated: 30thOctober 2006.
Who is the target audience?
Those considering studying “The Knowledge” would be the first that would come to mind when considering who would benefit from this paperback. That said anyone wanting to know how to find anything in London would be well advised to get one.
The London A-Z, I know her well.
I continue to use traditional methods of locating the places I wish to travel. I find looking at a page of the London A-Z allows me at a glance to find the path I want to take. I avoid the constant directions of an electronic voice dictating the one and only route to a destination. I live for the times I get lost and find strange and interesting locations with intriguing back stories. I am not a technophobe; in fact I am an advanced user, designer, and educator in technology related subjects. I prefer my choice of directions and those happy times where I occasionally meet people or accidentally visit places that would have been missed if I used my GPS.
Then there is the utility of humor built into reference materials such as the London A-Z. I have been known to flip through to the index of the book and look up the funny or unusual names contained therein. These names vary from crude and lascivious names from the deep and distant past of London. Names that echo from the Saxon roots, Roman street names, and the place names inspired by the work people did at that location in times now past. The back stories of many of the locations you can find in the index of the London A-Z can be fascinating and add to your lexicon of humorous tales or intriguing myths to discuss with those who find such matters interesting. For example there is a place called Bleeding Heart Yard, you can find it in East Central 1 (EC1). It is in Clerkenwell and is reported to be so named owing to a murder that happened there in the year 1626. It turns out however, that the woman reputed to have been murdered actually died 20 years later and not of natural causes. If you are a reader of Charles Dickens work you may recall the case; he included in his book The Little Dorrit.
Not far from the Tower of London there is a street named Knightrider Street (Knyghriderstrete in 1322 language). The street is named after the knights that would traverse this area from the Tower old London to Jousting tournaments in Smithfeilds. Then there is the plethora of funny, licentious, and salacious Public House and place names; for example there is Wardrobe Place in EC4. It was at this location that King Edward 3rd housed his walk-in wardrobe. Sadly, the building was destroyed in the now infamous Great Fire of London 1666. Then there is Cock Lane, EC1, a wonderful erection if I do say so myself. Cock Lane is another, all be it humorous, example of a place name that has relevance to the trade plied there in the past. Cock Lane was the only street in the City (City of London, The square mile, a private corporation) where ladies of the evening were allowed to live and work. Last but not least there is Hanging Sword Alley in EC4. In medieval times most of the country was illiterate and so there was no naming or numbering of houses, they preferred instead to use symbols. In the case of a coffee house there would often be a ladies arm holding a coffee pot. At the house on Hang Sword Lane there was a mansion and they used a hanging sword as their symbol. The area was known for fighting schools and as a rough place to visit which is probably why the Blood Bowl Alley came to be named. Again those of you familiar with Dickens work will find a reference to such places in A Tale of Two Cities in the form of Jerry Cruncher body-snatcher.
I suggest if you are bored and in search of adventure, turn off your GPS get yourself a London A-Z and go and lose yourself for a few hours in London. Visit the places you never knew existed and perhaps find your other self.
Always remember that a book can be much more than its cover.
Be it the times of Pax Romanaus or Pax Britainica always have your trusty and reliable cartographic entertainment on your person, because you never know when you’ll need the London A-Z.